Introducing Eurabia Watch, a new column by Emily Bradford, who lives in Europe. It will be running regularly here:
Bat Ye”or’s pioneering work, Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, is based primarily upon conference papers, diplomatic exchanges, and policy proposals of EU officials. The cornerstone of European rapprochement with the Islamic world has been a common antagonism toward Israel, Jews, and America — sheltered in a labyrinth of agreements written in careful diplomatese. She also discusses how this trend is reflected and promoted in the European media, so that, concerned with government officials and journalists, Eurabia is a narrative focused on elites. Bat Ye”or takes pains to point out that most ordinary Europeans, in contrast, do not share their leaders” hostility.
Privately, many Europeans confess to mistrust and dislike not of Jews, but of the millions of Muslim immigrants their governments have insisted upon importing. The feeling is not born of blind bigotry, but of frustration with the tangible social problems that have accompanied one of the greatest migrations in history. That so many Europeans object to misguided government policies would seem to be cause for hope that Eurabia’s collision course with history can be averted. However, over the same period, EU institutions have worked to remove voters from the loop, so democracy no longer functions as a check on Europe’s direction.
As a bulwark against future conflict, the European Economic Community was established in 1957 by France, Germany, Italy, and Benelux. Initially conceived of as a common market and customs union, the 1957 Treaty of Rome also aspired to an “ever closer union.” Thus, during the 1960s and 1970s, the EEC grew into a web of international agreements seeking to harmonize the laws of all member states, on issues ranging from consumer and environmental protection, social and cultural programs, banking and securities, and so on.
Counterbalancing American economic might was also a major goal of the EU’s architects.
As the EEC and other agreements were merged into the European Community, the EC expanded in membership as well as scope, adding Denmark, Ireland, and the UK in 1973; Greece, Spain, and Portugal in the 1980s; Austria, Finland, and Sweden in 1995; and just this year, ten Eastern European countries, bringing the total membership to 25. The 1992 Maastricht Treaty officially brought the European Union into existence, by which time a maze of multilateral agreements had established a de facto federal government of Europe, with member states roughly equivalent to U.S. states.
The federal system of the United States of Europe, however, bears little resemblance to America’s, either in its creation or in substance. Its primary feature has been periodic, incremental transfers of sovereignty by member state governments to the EU, which has acquired vast powers through decades of accretion. The impact of this could be somewhat mitigated if EU institutions were accountable to voters in a meaningful way. But because reaching “consensus” in the early days of the union proved cumbersome and slow, EU planners gradually engineered such democratic checks out of the system.
For example, there is no separation of powers doctrine; the European Commission is simultaneously the EU’s executive and de facto legislative branch. A theoretical limit on its power is the subsidiarity principle: if an issue can best be addressed at the national rather than the EU level, the Commission is not supposed to act. However, Commissioners make that judgment, not member states. Furthermore, when member states object, the European Court of Justice — the EU Supreme Court — frequently resolves disputes in the Commission’s favor. It goes without saying that Commissioners are appointed, being too powerful to be subject to the instability of elections.
While the European Parliament is the official, popularly elected legislative branch, it’s impotent in the areas that count. It cannot propose any new legislation, which is the sole prerogative of the Commission. Most significantly, the Parliament has only an advisory role in critical areas of EU law, in which it has no power to amend or veto. In matters relating to police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters; discrimination on the basis of race, ethnic origin, religion or political conviction; and visas, asylum, and immigration, the Commission wields exclusive power.
Further, the Commission is explicitly intended to be independent of member states. Commissioners are not permitted to take instructions from the member state which appointed them, but are supposed to represent the interests of the citizens of the EU as a whole. By representing everyone, they represent no one, and their own personal agendas inevitably fill the gap.
Directives, the chief instrument by which member state laws are harmonized, are where democracy and accountability in the EU truly disappear. Directives are instructions from the Commission to member state legislatures to pass a law on a certain subject by a certain date. Twenty-one languages are spoken in the EU, so member states are free to choose the wording; but the substance and the goal set by the Commission must be achieved.
For example, appointed Commissioners issue a directive, say, requiring beer to be manufactured and labeled in a certain way. A member state say, Germany — may be perfectly happy with the way they’ve been making and labeling beer for centuries. The Bundestag refuses to repeal the German beer law of 1516, which would be required to implement the directive. The Commission sues Germany for noncompliance, and the ECJ rules in the Commission’s favor. Result: Despite massive public protest, Germany has to change its laws and practices to suit the EU. This was an actual case, from 1987, and there are thousands more like it.
Voting is actually required by law in many European countries. But, while citizens can vote for national representatives of their choice, those representatives are not free to legislate as they see fit. As the EU acquires ever broader powers, national legislatures must increasingly take their marching orders from Brussels — effectively nullifying the will of the voters. This is business as usual in the EU, which may explain why French, Dutch and Danish voters rejected the EU Constitution this year, and also why it came as such a shock to the elites. Their grand, well-intentioned project was humming along perfectly until those pesky little voters had the audacity to say no.
Eurocrats have two ways of dealing with such democratic roadblocks. One method is to keep holding national referenda until they get the answer they want. Another method is to craft EU institutions and procedures to avoid having to ask for anyone’s permission. Every major EU treaty, including the 1992 Maastricht Treaty and this years failed EU Constitution, has been touted as an innovative measure to “streamline the institution’s decisional procedures.” In other words, to do away with that lumbering democracy business that results in disagreement, debate, and delays in the march toward progress.
This has obvious implications for Europe’s most urgent problem: millions of unassimilated Muslim immigrants, thousands of imams preaching Islamic supremacism, and self-proclaimed mujahideen bombing subways, raping teenagers, and torching cars and churches. Many Europeans are upset and want action, but entrenched and aloof Eurocrats have so far refused to respond. Their steadfast inaction is producing two disturbing developments: frustrated citizens are being driven into the arms of extreme nationalist parties, which have been steadily gaining influence; and authorities are increasingly treating freedom of speech as a limited and negotiable right. The growing conflict between the government and the people is adding an even uglier dimension to the Eurabian experiment.